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» 2017 Defensive Personnel Analysis

Defenses have taken a wide variety of responses to the rise of 11 personnel. Is any one system better than another? And how has the rise of the "moneybacker" changed defensive philosophy?

18 Sep 2017

Audibles at the Line: Week 2

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Minnesota Vikings 9 at Pittsburgh Steelers 26

Aaron Schatz: I hope Kyle Sloter's nickname is "Sergeant."

Scott Kacsmar: The Steelers are clearly trying to get Le'Veon Bell on track, but there just hasn't been much movement up front so far. The wide receivers are carrying this offense again after Xavier Rhodes pulled Antonio Brown's jersey for a long pass interference penalty. Martavis Bryant officially is back after taking a quick slant to the house for a touchdown. The Steelers were going to go for two, but a silly group celebration (now legal) by the receivers led to a delay of game penalty, making the extra point a no-brainer call. If that's not the last group celebration for this offense, then Mike Tomlin has missed a teachable moment.

Aaron Schatz: Oh for crying out loud. We finally get rid of celebration penalties and some team has to ruin it with a delay of game penalty.

Scott Kacsmar: Well the group celebration returned quickly for Pittsburgh, but they knew better to get it over with immediately this time. JuJu Smith-Schuster gets his first score after a pretty easy shovel pass. This was set up once again by a long pass interference on Trae Waynes against Bryant. Ben Roethlisberger only has 39 passing yards, but two huge pass interference penalties have given the Steelers 71 extra yards.

Vince Verhei: Steelers up 14-0 early in the second quarter, mainly because their wide receivers are dominating Vikings corners in pass coverage. Antonio Brown drew a 22-yard pass interference on Xavier Rhodes on the first touchdown drive, and Martavis Bryant drew a 49-yarder on Trae Waynes on the next. The pass rush and run defense for Minnesota have been solid, but they've been undone by the secondary.

Should also mention that on Pittsburgh's first touchdown drive, they had a fourth-and-1 at their own 31 and lined up to go for it, and got Brian Robison to jump offsides. At that point and time, hard to believe they were actually going to run a play. Add that to the DPIs, and the penalties on Minnesota's defense have really been the biggest plays in the game.

Steelers special teams unit for MVP! Last week they blocked a punt for a touchdown. This week they sniffed out a fake punt to give their offense the ball in Vikings territory. It was one of the lazier fake attempts you'll see -- Ryan Quigley took the snap and immediately raised the ball to pass, focused on one receiver, and lobbed the ball to him even though he wasn't open. It was closer to being intercepted than anything. Steelers then get a field goal without picking up a first down. They actually missed from 51, but Vikings were flagged for illegal formation, and Chris Boswell hit from 46 on the second try. Another big penalty for the Minnesota defense.

Dalvin Cook busts out a 25-yard run to set the Vikings up inside the 1 (it was ruled a touchdown live, but reversed after instant replay), and C.J. Ham scores on a fullback dive on the next play. Kai Forbath misses the extra point, but the Sam Bradford-less Vikings are hanging around, 17-9. That failed fake punt looks huge now.

On replay, Cook had a gaping hole off right tackle, but rather than take what was there and engage the safety, he bounced it to the outside. Can't knock the results, but seemed like he made it harder than it had to be.

Well, everyone do a shot -- we have another Vikings penalty leading to a Pittsburgh score, even indirectly. Tom Johnson jumps offside, and Ben Roethlisberger exploits the free play with a long bomb to Martavis Bryant, who beats Waynes for a 51-yard catch. Pittsburgh gets one more first down, but the drive stalls and they add another field goal to go up 20-9.

Bryan Knowles: Mike Zimmer, on Sam Bradford: "Sam is fine. He might play one game from now, he might play six weeks from now. Either way, he's fine."

Ah, I see this is some strange usage of the word "fine" that I hadn't previously been aware of.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Kansas City Chiefs 27

Bryan Knowles: One of the "worries" for the Chiefs after their upset win last Thursday night was the invisibility of Travis Kelce. It seemed to be a key point of emphasis for Andy Reid to get Kelce involved early against Philadelphia; he was targeted three times, catching two of them and picking up 56 yards on the Chiefs opening field goal drive. That's more yards than he put up all game against New England. It's also more yards than the Eagles gave up to a tight end all of last season; they had the highest DVOA against tight ends last season.

Derrik Klassen: I think it's safe to say Justin Houston is back. He was a force versus New England last week and he has been every bit as good in the early goings versus Philadelphia. A joy to watch when he's at full strength.

Bryan Knowles: Injuries beginning to pile up for the Eagles defense. Jaylon Watkins and Rodney McLeod have both headed to the locker room, and Ronald Darby was already out. Beginning to get a little thin in the secondary; expect some deep shots (or, at least, deep for Smith and the Chiefs offense) in the near future.

Good luck, bad luck.

The Eagles decide not to kneel to end the half, instead letting Carson Wentz throw up a pseudo-Hail Mary. He overthrows Zach Ertz, but the ball bounces off Terrence Mitchell's hands -- Mitchell was prepping to make the tackle, and wasn't expecting the ball. It flies right back to Ertz, who gets the Eagles into field goal range. Of course, they then hook the 30-yard field goal attempt wide left. 6-3, Chiefs at the half.

Remember that solid Chiefs drive to open the game, where Kelce did all those receiving things? Yeah, that has stopped entirely. That drive was 73 yards; since then, the Chiefs have just 57. Philadelphia is bringing all sorts of pressure, and it's disrupting everything the Chiefs are trying to do -- three sacks and seven quarterback hits already. The difference in the game so far was a Darren Sproles fumble on a punt, giving Kansas City great field position to kick their second field goal of the game. It feels like we're waiting for a big play by someone, somewhere, to give someone an advantage.

Want to know how hard-hitting this game has been? Even the cheerleaders aren't immune.

There's your big play, courtesy of Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs finally win at the point of attack, opening up a massive hole for Hunt to run through. Hunt had very little to actually do -- raced around one safety, but he mostly had wide open space as he ran for a 53-yard score. 13-10, Chiefs.

Everyone on Twitter is going nuts over Travis Kelce's five-yard leap for a touchdown, but I'm more interested in the play design. It's a simple shovel pass, but there was a bunch of pre-snap movement with backs going every which way, a fake hand off, a bluff of an end around for Tyreek Hill, the backside guard pulling to lead the way through the hole, and so on and so forth. It was basically a power read, and some really good play calling by Andy Reid. Might be my favorite play of the week so far.

I question Philadelphia's late-game strategy, but they at least had a chance to win the game. They were running dinks and dunks with less than 30 seconds left needing two touchdowns, including an attempt at a running back screen for some reason. They did manage to get into the end zone, and then managed to recover the onside kick relatively deep in Chiefs territory, but they only had time for one Hail Mary. Game over, Chiefs are 2-0 and looking very, very tough to beat.

Vince Verhei: I will never forget the Chiefs against the Patriots, huddling down two scores while the clock kept running down. But when I looked up Andy Reid's record down two scores in the fourth quarter, it wasn't appreciably different than average. So that ultra-patient approach can be frustrating to watch, but it does work once in a while.

Arizona Cardinals 16 at Indianapolis Colts 13

Dave Bernreuther: The Jacoby Brissett-led Colts offense looked more-or-less like an NFL offense on their first drive. He wasn't amazing by any stretch, but he seemed to have decent pocket awareness while keeping his eyes down the field and good patience. A penalty gifted them four extra points, which could very well be the difference maker in this game.

Nice throw to Jack Doyle to open the second drive too. What a shame they didn't make that trade a month earlier.

Bryan Knowles: Bruce Arians was interviewed at the half, and asked why his offense wasn't clicking. Arians replied with just one word: "Quarterback."

In FOA 2017, we looked at aging quarterbacks with similar career paths to Carson Palmer. Every older quarterback with success had solid offensive line play in front of him, while nearly all the negative examples were shaken, rattled, and rolled by the pass rush on a regular basis. Carson has already been hit six times today, nearly as much as he was all game against Detroit last week. Without David Johnson, the Cardinals offense is just utterly, utterly predictable, and Palmer's getting crushed out there.

Bryan Knowles: Overtime, as icing works again, and Phil Dawson shanks the second game-winning field goal attempt.

That's two icing attempts that have worked today (the Chiefs iced the Eagles at the end of the first half, and they missed a 30-yarder). This is going to be insufferable for a few weeks. But hey, bonus Colts-Cardinals action. That's great, right? Right?


Dave Bernreuther: Every reason everyone has ever given to get rid of Chuck Pagano just happened in the last five minutes. And so the Colts are 0-2 again.

It seems Jacoby Brisset's shelf life is roughly 200 yards of offense. Much like last year, they seem to have figured him out quickly. Once that happened, the offense spun its wheels.

OK, wow. Never mind. Icing -- a.k.a. another bad coaching decision -- works. Sigh.

With the exception of two 59-plus-yard kicks, I would wager that no team has benefitted more from easy field goal misses than the Colts.

New England Patriots 36 at New Orleans Saints 20

Andrew Potter: Saints defensive linemen -- easily the strength of the defense -- are consistently winning their matchups against the Patriots blockers early on, but Tom Brady's decisions are just too quick for it to matter. The anticipation on the touchdown pass to Rex Burkhead makes the pass rush almost an irrelevance.

Then on the second Patriots drive, the one time Brady has to hold the ball Rob Gronkowski gets away from rookie Alex Anzalone, evades P.J. Williams after the catch, and it's two touchdowns in two drives.

Bryan Knowles: Good lord, does Gronk Smash. Brady gets pressured by the Saints pass rush, is forced to throw an off-balance pass deep downfield, and hits a wide open Rob Gronkowski. Rookie Alex Anzalone was tasked with covering him and, no. Just no. He got caught looking in the backfield, and tripped over himself when Gronk just blew past him.

That's the second touchdown allowed by Anzalone, by the by -- he was in coverage on the Rex Burkhead touchdown. Patriots targeting him early and often.

Aaron Schatz: Anzalone is a weakness but the Saints look like they have some pieces here. I'm actually more optimistic about their defense than I would expect given that they're losing 13-3 after 11 minutes. Marshon Lattimore has looked really good on Brandin Cooks, and Alex Okafor is bringing excellent pressure. He has just bowled over Nate Solder a couple times. Also, moving Cameron Jordan to the inside and letting him take on David Andrews one-on-one may be illegal assault.

Vince Verhei: Patriots scored 27 points in four quarters against Kansas City. They have 20 in one quarter against New Orleans. I have concluded the Chiefs' defense is better than the Saints'. I thought that was abundantly clear on the Gronkowski touchdown. Not only did the man in coverage fall down, but the safety had a chance to tackle him in the red zone but fell down after a barely-there juke.

The touchdowns have all been passing plays, but let's not overlook how New England is winning in the trenches too. Seems like every run is getting 3, 4, 5 yards.

Andrew Potter: Oh for pity's sake. Saints kick a field goal, but Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones jumps offside on the attempt, so Sean Payton takes the points off the board to line up and try to draw the Patriots offside on fourth-and-3. Not even to run a play, simply for a pathetic draw-them-offside waste of time. Fortunately, Lutz makes the second field goal after the inevitable delay-of-game penalty, but it would have been just like the Saints to have all of that happen then miss the second attempt.

Kenny Vaccaro is in real danger of leading the Saints in tackles purely by virtue of playing man coverage on Gronkowski.

Bryan Knowles: Some confusing coaching in New Orleans. Saints kick a field goal on fourth-and-eight, but the Patriots jump offsides. Sean Payton takes the points off the board, and lines up to go for it on fourth-and-three. But all they do is try to draw the Patriots offsides, so they take the delay of game penalty and ... just kick the field goal again. Zwuh?

Aaron Schatz: I feel like a weird guy looking for the cloudy lining around a big piece of silver here... the Patriots are winning 27-13 and the Saints defense is still mostly garbage but Marshon Lattimore looks really good and also Nate Solder is having a crappy game. I've seen him giving up pressures to Alex Okafor and Cameron Jordan, and a sack to Hau'oli Kikaha.

Andrew Potter: Remember how we have pointed out repeatedly over the offseason that wide receiver screens don't work? The Patriots just used the fake receiver screen to hit two big plays on the drive that put them up 27-13. The first, everybody bit on the pump fake to Phillip Dorsett and left Chris Hogan alone over the middle of the field for a 27-yard gain. The second, again faked to Dorsett, pulled centerfield safety Kenny Vaccaro toward the offensive left, leaving a giant hole in the middle of the field for Brandin Cooks. A better throw from Tom Brady, and that would have been his fourth passing touchdown. Instead, he threw low and behind Cooks to make a tough catch out of an easy score. No matter, Mike Gillislee goes behind left guard into the end zone on the following play.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I guess that Sean Payton does have balls. He just went for it on fourth-and-3 from the 25 instead of bringing Wil Lutz out to try a 43-yard field goal. Ted Ginn had Eric Rowe beat in the end zone but he kind of lost the ball in the air or there was some kind of miscommunication with Drew Brees and the ball fell a yard or 2 to the right of him, incomplete.

Vince Verhei: At the end of the first half, the Saints are just throwing bodies at Gronkowski, within 5 yards so it's legal. But it's irrelevant, he's just throwing them aside like King Kong swatting biplanes and he gets open in the end zone for what would be an all-time highlight touchdown ... and drops the ball. Oops. Brady then scrambles on third down, and without timeouts, the special teams unit has to dash onto the field. I didn't think they were going to make it, but they pulled it off, and the kick is good for a 30-13 halftime lead. Brady has 294 yards and three touchdowns. In a half.

Andrew Potter: Rob Gronkowski made another grab and dragged both Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams with him for extra yardage, but got up and hobbled off to the sideline. Given the score (currently 33-13 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter), it doesn't look likely that he'll return. Chris Hogan limped off injured earlier too, but has since returned. The Patriots had one of the deepest skill position rosters in the league at the start of the year, but we're in the third quarter of Week 2 and they could be down to two receivers and two tight ends.

Saints have benched Kenny Vaccaro, who spent the first half shadowing Gronk in man coverage. Amid rumors they're looking to trade him, that is not a promising development.

Cleveland Browns 10 at Baltimore Ravens 24

Bryan Knowles: Kevin Hogan is in for DeShone Kizer. Kizer apparently has a migraine headache, which has taken him out of the game.

To be fair, I'd get a migraine if I had to watch the Browns' offense on a regular basis, too.

Vince Verhei: Wait. Kizer's out?

(Why is this joke funny for Kevin Hogan but we never make it for Chris Hogan?)

And then Hogan finds a wide-open Seth DeValve for 49 yards; runs for 5 yards on first-and-5 after a Baltimore penalty; and hits David Njoku in the corner of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown to pull within 14-7. Is there a quarterback controversy in Cleveland? Well, no, there isn't, but it was a nice drive.

Oh, hey, Kizer's back. Ravens lead 24-10 so it hardly matters.

Well, I almost spoke too soon there. Browns got a first-and-goal after two big Rashard Higgins catches and a Duke Johnson run. But then Kizer lost 4 yards on a designed run, and then tried to force a ball to Higgins with at least three Ravens around, and Lardarius Webb gets the interception. That's three interceptions for Cleveland today -- two for Kizer, one for Hogan.

One area where Kizer needs work is his deep sideline throws. I've seen a bunch of plays in just two weeks where he put the pass out of bounds and didn't give his receivers a chance to make a play.

Derrik Klassen: Kizer has had issues early on stabilizing his base when he goes to throw. Often sets his feet too wide, lending to the throw being much harder to control. Hopefully he irons that out as he gets more comfortable.

Tom Gower: John Harbaugh announces post-game Marshal Yanda has an ankle injury, and it's season-ending. Injuries suck.

Chicago Bears 7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29

Bryan Knowles: It would make sense that the Buccaneers have Mike Glennon's number; it's not like anyone else in the NFL has gotten to see him play quarterback over the last couple seasons. Glennon has already thrown two interceptions, including a bad pass behind the receiver for a Robert McClain pick-six, and fumbled another one. Bears are down 23-0, and honestly, it's not even that close.

Tennesee Titans 37 at Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Tom Gower: Titans up 6-3 at the half, as Ryan Succop boots one through to close out 30 uninspiring minutes of football. Both teams have largely stuck to their philosophies and run the football as much as they can on first and second downs. Early-down passing success was one of the reasons the Jaguars were so successful against the Texans last week while the Titans struggled. This time, both teams have looked bad at it. The Titans are 3-of-6 for 16 yards and an interception, while Jacksonville is 1-of-5 for 4 yards (screen on first-and-20) and a tipped-ball interception of their own. I could say more, but we're 30 minutes of football into Week 2 and I'm already feeling like the neighbor kid in The Incredibles hoping that maybe because the Titans were good on offense last year and have most people back they'll be good this year.

Much like games involving the 1996 Bulls, the third quarter proved decisive as the better team used it to turn a close game into a lopsided contest. Blake Bortles slant thrown behind a receiver on first possession, tipped-ball interception, Titans start in Jacksonville territory and get a field goal for a 9-3 lead. Jaguars three-and-out, long punt return by Adoree Jackson to Jacksonville territory, Titans touchdown for 16-3 lead. Jaguars change things up by going five-and-out (including a repeated second down thanks to penalty), Titans start in Jacksonville territory again, long pass to start the quarter puts them in first-and-goal, touchdown, 23-3, and all over but the shouting. The fourth quarter proceeded on auto-complete, with some Titans run game success that will surely have the win attributed to it and some more Blake Bortles garbage time success.

So, what actually did change? Field position, as noted, was a big part of it. It's easier to score when you start close to the opposing end zone. Both touchdown drives featured big plays on passes to start the drive, something the Titans didn't find on early downs in the first half as I noted at halftime. Jacksonville's passing game continued to sputter when they went to it on early downs until they were down those three scores, and the Leonard Fournette offense wasn't sustaining on its own. So, more of the same, and the pass rush didn't find the going nearly as easy as it was against the Texans.

Buffalo Bills 3 at Carolina Panthers 9

Vince Verhei: I have only been watching this out of the corner of my eye while focusing on other games, but almost every time I've looked at it the Panthers have had the ball. I couldn't understand how the Panthers only led 6-0 at halftime, so I checked the boxscore. Now I REALLY can't understand how this game is close. Panthers have the edge in yards (193-39), plays (39-16), time of possession (23:07-6:53) and first downs (12-1). Bills' only first down came on a Tyrod Taylor scramble, and that drive only gained 10 net yards. Otherwise they have three three-and-outs and an end-of-half kneeldown. Both Carolina field goals were kicked inside the red zone. If they end up losing after one of the most dominant defensive halves you'll ever see, well, that's going to be an awkward locker room.

Scott Kacsmar: The FOX graphic actually said "Panthers Battle Undefeated Bills." Are the 1-0 Panthers also not undefeated? Buffalo's win was against the Jets, which doesn't seem like something worth celebrating. Anyways, I haven't been watching this one, but while it's 6-0 Carolina, the stats are alarming. Bills have one first down and Panthers are over 23 minutes in time of possession at halftime.

Vince Verhei: The most notable play in the first half may have been a Cam Newton scramble. He got the first down, then actually slid so he wouldn't get hit. I can't remember ever seeing him slide before. That can only help keep him healthy.

Taylor runs for another first down on the first play of the second half. They need to just go with the triple-option the rest of the year.

Dave Bernreuther: Every time I glance at the Panthers-Bills game, Cam Newton is throwing a pass that should be picked but isn't. So that might account for the stat-score disparity.

Bryan Knowles: And now, Newton is down and not getting up. He has been sacked six times today, and that was back-to-back hits.

Forget the score; if the Panthers lose both Greg Olsen and Newton in the same game, this is a disaster.

Vince Verhei: The Bills have six passes defensed, but Newton hasn't thrown a pick yet -- but he has been sacked six times. He stayed down after the last one before limping off the field. Panthers punted on the next snap -- we'll see if it's Newton or Derek Anderson taking snaps on their next drive.

Bills get a field goal. It's 6-3 now. Newton is back on the field.

Newton has been highly erratic today. He has made some big plays, but missed plenty of open guys too. That includes throwing wide of Christian McCaffrey on third-and-goal for what should have been a game-clinching touchdown. Instead they kick a field goal to go up 9-3, and the Bills will get one more shot with 2:35 to go. Only two timeouts, though, because they called one on that third-and-goal play to make sure they were lined up correctly -- there were only 7 seconds left on the play clock, so it wasn't about preserving time.

Aaron Schatz: The problem with Tyrod Taylor's happy feet is that those 4-yard scrambles don't really help you when it's third-and-long and you are losing by six points and there's less than a minute left.

Vince Verhei: Bills have a fourth-and-11 with 15 seconds left at the Panthers' 33. They have one timeout left. Zay Jones runs a post-corner to the right side and comes wide open in the Carolina zone. A good throw and it's a touchdown. A bad throw and Jones can dive for it, bring it in, call timeout, and give the Panthers one or two plays inside the 5. Instead it's an awful throw, and Jones can barely get a finger on it, and it hits the turf, and that's the game.

Aaron Schatz: That throw reminded me of Brady's throw to Wes Welker in Super Bowl XLVI. It was sort of a drop by Jones because a great catch brings it in, but really, it was overthrown and he shouldn't have needed to dive for it.

Bryan Knowles: Don't forget that Buffalo had terrible clock management on the lead-up to that overthrow, choosing not to call timeouts and let the clock tick down. With more time on the clock, maybe they don't have to settle for a bomb on fourth-and-game.

Aaron Schatz: Postscript to this game: Greg Olsen broke his foot. Hasn't missed a game since 2007. That's huge.

San Francisco 49ers 9 at Seattle Seahawks 12

Aaron Schatz: Eddie Lacy is a healthy scratch. What on earth has happened there? Is it just that Thomas Rawls and Chris Carson have been so good, or is Lacy just completely toast?

Carl Yedor: The coaching staff LOVES Chris Carson, and Rawls had been running with the ones during preseason. I'm not sure if Lacy is toast just yet (National Jump to Conclusions week and whatnot), but it looks like he's just the odd man out when Rawls, Carson, and C.J. Prosise are all healthy. Carrying those four non-fullback running backs on game day probably doesn't work since Lacy doesn't play special teams.

Vince Verhei: Mostly faith in Rawls, Carson, and C.J. Prosise. It was just one game (and a horrible one for Seattle's offense, so we should take it with all possible grains of salt), but Carson finished as the leading rusher last week with six carries for 39 yards. Lacy had five carries for 3 yards. Coaching staff loves Carson and his bowling-ball style. But when you have a team that invests as much in the running back position as Seattle does, you're going to have some good players on the sideline.

More on Seattle's obscene running back depth: They cut Alex Collins just before their season. He had seven carries for 42 yards for Baltimore today. I mean, he's still the third back behind Buck Allen and Terrance West, but he would have been the fifth back in Seattle.

Well, that first drive for Seattle was almost a textbook example of what they want their offense to look like. Russell Wilson on the move on bootlegs, rollouts, and scrambles. Running backs making physical plays -- Prosise breaking tackles to convert a third-and-long dumpoff into a first down; Carson moving the pile to turn a third-and-8 into a fourth-and-inches, which Wilson converted via an option keeper. Get those defensive linemen worn out chasing the ballcarriers. The drive stalled inside the 10, because they remain the Seahawks. But they get a field goal to go ahead.

Bright spots for the 49ers: they are trying to run Seattle's defensive scheme, and they have the stud safeties they need to make that work. Eric Reid is Earl Thomas, roaming sideline-to-sideline to make tackles. Jacquiski Tartt is Kam Chancellor, with the big hit on Jimmy Graham to force an incompletion.

Bryan Knowles: The other silver lining for the 49ers is that they were getting pressure on Seattle -- you'd hope so, with that offensive line, but still. Anything that's not a four-score blowout is probably worth celebrating for San Francisco in this one.

Just in case there was any wondering, Brian Hoyer's magical interception luck from 2016 is not, in fact, a skill. He threw his second interception of the season today on a decision that only really makes sense if you assume Bobby Wagner has the previously unknown ability to turn invisible. You have to think C.J. Beathard will be quarterbacking this team by the time the season is over.

The interception set up another Seahawks field goal, as the end zone remains off limits so far in 2017.

Vince Verhei: Oh, I would never assume Beathard will start.

(Hoyer's first-quarter stats: 1-of-3, -1 yards, 1 INT)

Beathard will be on the field within the hour.

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers have exactly one good offensive player, but he's really good. Carlos Hyde has 102 yards on seven carries, and is the extent of the 49ers' offense so far. He averaged 5 yards a carry last week, too, so it's not exactly a fluke.

Vince Verhei: For a long time there I thought I was watching a replay of the Bills-Panthers game. 49ers couldn't do a damn thing right or stay on the field (they finished the first half with less than 10 minutes of possession time), but Seattle kept bungling things in scoring range and could only get ahead 6-0. Then Carlos Hyde ripped off a pair of long runs (the biggest a 61-yarder, a cutback keyed by blocks by George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk) to set up a pair of field goals, and we're tied at 6-6. Seattle's line has been much better than last week (they could hardly be any worse), but the skill players are letting them down. Wilson's two sacks are coverage sacks, believe it or not. Prosise has two drops, one that would have been a touchdown, one that might have converted a third down at the end of the half (which would have denied the 49ers a chance at that second field goal).

Through six quarters of 2017:

Jermaine Kearse: 1 TD.
Marshawn Lynch: 1 TD.
Seattle Seahawks: 0 TD.

Per Field Gulls on Twitter: Seahawks time of possession in all of Week 1: 20:47. Time of possession in the first half today: 20:47.

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers made a move from Zane Beadles to Laken Tomlinson at left guard before the game, and it has paid off. Beadles really shouldn't be an NFL starter at this point, so the 49ers giving up a 2019 fifth-rounder to boost the position made a lot of sense.

There have only been two plays this game of more than 25 yards; both came from Carlos Hyde and both set up 49ers field goals. Does that count as the 49ers' offense being the more explosive of the two? Probably not, but take out the opening drive of the game, and the 49ers are outgaining the Seahawks 146-98.

If you told me before the season that the 49ers would have as many touchdowns as the Seahawks did through six quarters, I would have been ecstatic.

The last time the Seahawks failed to score a touchdown in their first two games was in 1991. The 49ers have never failed to score a touchdown in their first two games. We'll see if either team can discover the end zone; with the Rams trailing in Washington and the Cardinals having lost in Detroit, the winner of this game will probably be atop the division.

Vince Verhei: Tanner McEvoy drops what would have been a third-down conversion inside the 40. Earlier he failed to catch a ball in the end zone -- that one was knocked loose by a big hit, but McEvoy had his hands on it first. That's five times by my count Seattle's receivers have failed or been beaten at the catch point.

Eric Reid also leaves the game, for the third time. He keeps coming back, but he can't be 100 percent.

Frank Clark appears to sack Brian Hoyer for a safety, but the ball was (correctly) spotted just outside the end zone. However, Clark appeared to suffer an eye injury while celebrating the safety-that-wasn't. Hope it was just a lost contact.

Bryan Knowles: I'll also say that Russell Wilson is looking more inaccurate than I've seen him in quite some time -- missing throws high. The 49ers are getting pressure and playing solid coverage, though it's hard to tell how much of that is the potential of the young San Francisco defense and how much of it is the lack of execution by the Seattle offense.

Vince Verhei: It's still 6-6 at the end of three. I'm officially anxious. Wilson is throwing high or getting passes tipped at the line. There is no rushing room to be found. It's quite dreary.

Bryan Knowles: One man's dreary is another man's ... well, still dreary, but excitingly dreary.

Vince Verhei: 49ers kick a field goal to go up 9-6. Most of the damage is done on the ground, as Seattle's defense is the one that looks tired now. Richard Sherman was questionable this week, and I think he has gone the whole way, but he's not at his best. He hasn't given up any big plays, yardage-wise, but he has surrendered some short completions for first downs. He almost had another one before that field goal, that would have given San Francisco a first down inside the red zone, but Marquise Goodwin dropped the pass, an out route from the slot.

Bryan Knowles: Seattle has switched to the no-huddle, and are picking up some of their best offensive plays of the day. Perhaps the fact that the 49ers defense has already been on the field for more than a half-hour has something to do with that.

Vince Verhei: Russell Wilson's healthy legs put Seattle ahead. He scrambles for gains of 4, 7, 5, and 11 yards on the next drive. Then on third-and-goal, he scrambles in the pocket, bounces to the right, then the left, and then -- Hosanna! -- finds Paul Richardson on the left sideline in the end zone for a touchdown.

And then Blair Walsh honks the extra point and the lead is only three. 12-9 Seahawks.

Bryan Knowles: Seahawks hold on to win, because the 49ers could not get anything going offensively. They had one real shot; a first-and-10 from the Seattle 20, and had to settle for a field goal. If Marquise Goodwin doesn't drop that pass...

But, of course, Goodwin DID drop the pass, and Seattle goes on to win, 12-9. The Seahawks' offense got so much better when they went into no huddle and just told Wilson to go make something happen; scrambling, dodging sacks, and generally running ragged an exhausted 49ers defense. They came through exactly when they needed to. They get the win, and they deserved to win (Brian Hoyer ended with just 99 yards passing! Can't win with that), but they should be very, very concerned that this was a contest this late.

Vince Verhei: Following the touchdown, Seattle's defense forces a three-and-out. They then run the clock out on five straight Chris Carson runs for a total of 41 yards, plus a couple of Wilson kneeldowns. Carson finishes with 20 carries for 93 yards. Lacy inactive. Rawls didn't get a carry after the first quarter (and only gained 4 yards on five runs). Prosise will still get time as the third-down back, but Carson sure looks like he'll be the bellcow from here on out.

Wins are more fun than losses, but watching this team for 14 more games is going to take years off my life.

Miami Dolphins 19 at Los Angeles Chargers 17

Vince Verhei: So to recap how bizarre Miami's season already is:

  • No game in Week 1 due to a hurricane.
  • Their big-name free-agent linebacker apparently had better things to do than play football on their delayed opening day.
  • Now they are about to start their season in a 30,000-seat sandbox that couldn't sell out. In Los Angeles. If the NFL plays a game and nobody's there to see it, does it make a sound?

Bryan Knowles: Even worse, Vince, there were pretty significant "Let's Go Dolphins" chants being heard at the StubHub. So not only are they not selling out the stadium, but the home fans are getting out-volumed by visiting fans. That's less than ideal.

So, how does Jay Cutler look coming out of the booth? His numbers seem accurate enough -- he's 13-for-17. But that's a total of 77 yards, and when he has looked deep, it's been bad -- like an uncontested, unpressured Hail Mary ending up a good 10 yards out of bounds bad.

He's hooking up a lot with Jarvis Landry ... and averaging 3.8 yards per completion. Not exactly an explosive connection.

Aaron Schatz: Requisite link to Scott Kacsmar's preseason Jarvis Landry pieces here and here.

Andrew Potter: In Cutler's defense, the Hail Mary sure looked like a designed throwaway to avoid having to punt with only two seconds left in the first half.

Bryan Knowles: I disagree. There were receivers running downfield, including one down the sideline in the same general vicinity of Cutler's pass. And if it was a designed throwaway, that's foolish. What, are they worried about the 90-yard interception return? I think I'd take the risk for a team that's kind of sleepwalking so far.

Vince Verhei: If there was two seconds left, they wouldn't have punted, they would have tried another Hail Mary.

Andrew Potter: That's the point. It was fourth down, on Miami's own 48-yard line, with two seconds to play. Kenny Stills was the only receiver on a route, and they had nine blockers. Cutler launched it as far as he could, with Stills running a half-hearted route just far enough downfield to use the time and make sure it couldn't be called grounding.

Vince Verhei: Ah. I misunderstood. I thought the Hail Mary was thrown on third down. Carry on.

Andrew Potter: The pass to Jarvis Landry that Miami just challenged was the most baffling incomplete pass ruling I've seen. Landry didn't just catch the ball and get both feet down before being hit; he caught the ball, switched it to his left hand, tucked it while taking four clear steps, and was then hit and fumbled. I don't know what else he should be expected to do to demonstrate possession. Tuck it under his jersey? The call was announced as confirmed after Miami's challenge, so clearly that's how the league wants it called, but it sure looked like a clear catch and fumble to me.

Bryan Knowles: Two weeks, two losses for the Chargers on missed last-second field goals. Wow.

Derrik Klassen: Where can we send Philip Rivers a bouquet?

Tom Gower: The ending of that game featured three near- or actual disasters in the final 15 seconds. The Chargers tried to run the ball and center it on second-and-1 with :19 left, since they were out of timeouts. Their plan then was to spike the ball to stop the clock and attempt what would be a game-winning field goal. Except, when Rivers got up, players from the sideline tried to run onto the field. Can't spike, that's a penalty. While Rivers is waving his arms and yelling at his teammates (the ones who should be there) to get lined up and those other guys to get off the field, I'm wondering if the Chargers can get seven on the line, everybody set, and a spike off in the next 9 seconds. Miami, for whatever reason, maybe because they saw the Chargers subbing, decides to make the whole thing moot and call timeout, giving the Chargers time to maybe run another play (5-yard out with :10 left, no problem) or just to send the field goal unit out with peace of mind. Lynn elects to send out the field goal team, Koo misses it, and Miami was saved from their error.

Washington Redskins 27 at Los Angeles Rams 20

Dave Bernreuther: I have nothing to say about the actual game but I still can't get over how ridiculous the Rams look with new helmet logos and last year's jerseys. I play beer league hockey games against teams that look better.

Bryan Knowles: I can't co-sign that enough. Looks very bush league. It'll look great when they're done, but until then...

Charles McDonald: Aaron Donald didn't take long to make an impact for the Rams. Forced a sack on a play-action stretch play that ruined Washington's drive. It's amazing that he's able to step in and dominate the second he gets back on the football field. Rare, rare player.

Dave Bernreuther: In a new system, no less.

Speaking of this game, Jared Goff still looks terrible. A hurricane kept me from seeing him last week but I can't even begin to imagine how the Colts made him look good.

In addition to terrible uniforms and terrible quarterbacking I also think I see terrible refereeing too, like a play in which Donald was both held and got hands to the face, but that TV is small so I could be wrong in that one.

But I could see Goff missing easy throws even if it was a 4:3 TV with rabbit ears.

Aaron Schatz: Jared Goff is one of the worst scramblers I've ever seen. When he takes off, he seems to just zig back and forth behind the line of scrimmage, like he's not sure if he really wants to do it or not. His eyes aren't really downfield looking for a receiver, and he keeps taking contact just to get, what, a yard or 2? Learn to throw the ball away if nobody's open and you can't scramble for real, meaningful yardage.

Tom Gower: Washington leads 20-10 at the half. Goff was, as noted, off target early, while Kirk Cousins was efficient executing reads that sometimes had the Rams defense looking bad and the run game made the Rams look like Denver's run defense last year. They had particular success at getting the edges and runners in space. They got the edge with regularity. The Rams showed signs of life beginning with a 69-yard gain to Gerald Everett. As soon as they started looking good, Chris Thompson restored the 10-point lead with a long touchdown that went up the middle and featured some "fourth quarter of 2015 AFC championship game, after Ward and Stewart got hurt" safety play.

Dave Bernreuther: Jared Goff just did his best James Van Der Beek impression, hitting the line judge in the head with a throw that was a full 5 yards behind the receiver, who was at most 10 yards down the field.

I can't even.

Tom Gower: Tied at 20, Washington had plenty of time to move the ball on the ground to drive for a go-ahead score. Which they took advantage of, as Cousins finished a 10-play drive going 3-for-3. The game-winning touchdown to Ryan Grant came out of something they'd had success with a couple times, using stacked receivers to confuse the Rams cover players. This showed up in a couple different versions at various points in the game, but it was something they went back to in key situations.

Down seven needing a score in the final two minutes and out of timeouts, Jared Goff seemed to lock onto Cooper Kupp from the snap. Mason Foster read him all the way, and that was that.

New York Jets 20 at Oakland Raiders 45

Derrik Klassen: Oakland finally asserted themselves as the dominant team in this game. Derek Carr motioned Cordarrelle Patterson into the backfield from an empty formation. Carr gave him the ball on an inside zone run, and Patterson stumbled through a poor tackle and was off to the end zone.

The Jets lost that play early by having two linebackers over the A-gaps with no defensive linemen in those gaps. It was third down and the Jets likely expected pass, so they went for the blitz. Oakland's offensive line ate them up to spring Patterson's big run. Now 28-13 in favor of Oakland.

Andrew Potter: Never mind Marshawn Lynch; Cordarrelle Patterson and Jalen Richard have over 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns between them against the Jets.

They have carried the ball five times combined.

(Lynch is at 12 carries for 45 yards, also with a touchdown.)

Dallas Cowboys 17 at Denver Broncos 42

Aaron Schatz: This game is 21-10 Broncos at halftime. The long weather-related delay isn't the only weird thing about it. Yes, the Denver run defense looks better than it did last year, but you still feed Ezekiel Elliott. That's what your offense is built around. How does Elliott only have four carries for 5 yards at halftime? How have the Cowboys only run Elliott on first down twice? It's put Dak Prescott in all kinds of long down-and-distance situations.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Demarcus Lawrence is eating Menelik Watson's lunch but nothing else seems to be going right for the Cowboys. They're very thin in the secondary and it shows. Broncos are gaining yardage easily both on the ground and in the air. Nolan Carroll went out with an injury, which left third-round rookie Jourdan Lewis covering Emmanuel Sanders; he slipped trying to follow Sanders on a whip route at the goal line and gave up a touchdown.

Cowboys get 37 yards on a two-minute drill right before halftime and got a high-altitude special with Dan Bailey hitting a 56-yard field goal, but they're really getting outplayed and I don't quite understand getting so far away from their usual offensive identity against a team with a pass defense as good as Denver's.

Cowboys run defense has been as bad as the Broncos run defense has been good today. These holes are like the parting of the Red Sea. Broncos have very good blocking tight ends.

Vince Verhei: I had serious question marks about Dallas' rebuilt defense coming into the season. Never did I think they would give up four touchdowns (so far) to Trevor Siemian.

Aaron Schatz: Seems like the Cowboys are getting different lineman beat on every play. It's very abnormal for them. Meanwhile, Prescott's accuracy is clearly problematic with the game clearly on his shoulders. Some of that is pressure, of course, but I don't think the Broncos' good cornerbacks make him totally overthrow or underthrow guys.

Bryan Knowles: I'm not sure what the game plan that gives Zeke Elliott seven carries is all about, but it needs to be burned.

Scott Kacsmar: Bad drop in the end zone by Jason Witten. Could have given the Cowboys some life down 11 with four minutes and all of their timeouts left. Too much pressure on Prescott the rest of the way, and a good defense of Dez Bryant in the end zone by Bradley Roby on fourth down. I really didn't think Dallas would get beaten like this. I thought the offensive line would be able to open up some holes for Elliott, but that just never came to fruition, and Denver was up big early.

Aaron Schatz: Asterisks: The Broncos have a great defense, Denver is a tough place to play, etc. But if we were waiting for a game to serve as evidence that Dak Prescott may not be quite as fantastic if ever forced to play from behind against a defense stacked to stop Ezekiel Elliott, well, here it is.

Green Bay Packers 23 at Atlanta Falcons 34

Charles McDonald: Looks like the Falcons' offense is up first. Let's see if they use more motion than last week and open it up down the field. They still have the horses to be an explosive offense.

Steve Sarkisian's opening script has been fantastic. Stretching the Packers horizontally; didn't do that much to the Bears last week. Like seeing him use the entire field.

Aaron Schatz: Big speed advantage for the Falcons offense against the Packers defense. And I'm not sure letting Damarious Randall cover Julio Jones is going to last deep into this game.

Dave Bernreuther: I don't know if it's DIRECTV, NBC, or the lighting in the new stadium, but something about the lighting/presentation of this Falcons game looks way too video game-y on TV. It's almost as if they over-lit the field and dimmed the crowd like they do in NBA arenas. It's an interesting look, but I can't help but wonder if between that and the ring video board up top it might affect the punting game or receivers.

Charles McDonald: Think it's the lighting. Even the preseason games during the day looked ... off.

Dave Bernreuther: It's like looking at an LED TV for the first time after getting used to plasma. Contrast, shadow, depth of field ... it's all just ... off.

Fitting for a stadium designed like a camera shutter, I guess.

Aaron Schatz: The light is reflecting off the Packers' white jerseys in a very weird way.

Carl Yedor: Atlanta marched right down the field on their opening drive for a touchdown. This one could be a shootout assuming Aaron Rodgers has enough time to throw without his starting tackles in there. At least I'm personally hoping it ends up a shootout after having watched the first two Seahawks games of the season.

Charles McDonald: Awesome to see the Falcons' 2016 approach making a comeback. Lots of motion, play-action, and crossing routes. They've called the Yankee concept twice tonight with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu getting big gains off of the crossers. Big improvement in Week 2 from Steve Sarkisian.

Aaron Schatz: Halftime, this thing is way more one-sided than I expected. The Packers defense just can't keep up with the Falcons, period. Weren't they supposed to work on that in the offseason?

Derrik Klassen: All that young speed the Falcons defense has seems to be coming together. Still not perfect, and they got bodied on the goal line early on, but this group is starting to click. If the pass rush can keep up like this throughout the season, the Falcons have themselves a defense. That said, this dismembered Packers offensive line may prove to be drunk-goggles for this pass rush. Something to track in the coming weeks.

Aaron Schatz: The injury to Jordy Nelson may also be drunk-goggles for the Atlanta secondary.

Scott Kacsmar: Guess we can see if the Packers can pull off the first "8+8+8" comeback in NFL history. Knowing McCarthy, he'll probably kick an extra point here though. But really, it's very rare to write off the Packers in the third quarter after some uncharacteristic turnovers by Rodgers. Just don't expect that pick before halftime or a weird fumble/lateral play for a touchdown. Atlanta's having a great night again, but Vic Beasley injury could be a turning point with the Packers driving.

Aaron Schatz: Thanks to an offensive pass interference penalty, there's no "here"
extra point to kick.

Scott Kacsmar: The Packers are down 34-10, and had more than 20 seconds to run a play to end the third quarter, but huddled and casually lined up while the game clock expired. What was that? You're getting a mini-timeout by running a play there to stop the clock. Instead, the Packers run their next play to start the fourth, and the clock goes down to 14:08 before a false start. The clock kept running and reached 13:43 before the next snap. Wow, that's 77 wasted seconds by being lazy to end the third quarter.

Benjy Rose: Quick note on the lighting: I was at the Benz-o-dome yesterday for soccer, and the lighting is different than anywhere else I've seen. I believe they use LEDs that don't have much spread, so yes, it does look spotlight-y. Plus, the turf is quite a saturated green. Helluva stadium, though. Over 1,000 beer taps ... so there's that...

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 18 Sep 2017

88 comments, Last at 19 Sep 2017, 10:22pm by LionInAZ


by johonny :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:13am

Mia vs Carson Miami's defense played better than any one could have expected it to do given the pre-season injuries, suspensions, and biggest free agent disappearing on game day. Their DBs look iffy and Jones didn't do much for the money they're paying him. Suh was a beast. Harris was picked by this website as a huge potential bust and did nothing to spell that feeling in his first game. Miami's offense flows better trying to get the ball to Parker and then throwing underneath to Landry than trying to get the ball to Landry and then punting. Either way they need to get more people on this team involved in the offense. Three players counted for most of their touches to an absurd level. You can't have a running back carrying 400 times in a season, so they might try getting other players in the mix. Rivers deserves better, but it feels like it every season. Is it too early to cut your kicker? Still I'll take a gift win. AFC least race 1) NE They can score, they can give up yards, but man Brady makes garbage look better than some teams superstars 2) Mia-A gift win, but it keeps them in pace to push the upper range of their win total. 3) Buf-IDK they can play defense it seems. 4) Jets-This team almost always plays Miami tough at home. If they suck it up next week...0-16 seems a real possibility.

by James-London :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:30am

Mostly concur. Miami's D-line were great against the run, but got very little pressure on Rivers who proceeded to cut Miami's back seven to ribbons. Even with Timmons Miami are thin at LB, and without him they have to find help. No idea if there are any worthwhile FA's (I suspect not), so Trader Tannenbaum might have to go to work...
Thought Miami's O-line did well- created some good holes for Ajayi and with the one exception when Melvin Ingram whipped Tunsil round the edge, the pass blocking was pretty good. Bosa in particular did very little.

Can anyone tell me what in Christ's name Miami were thinking when they called that TO at the end?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:39pm

Icing the substitution.

by johonny :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 3:29pm

I can only assume they were in a panic mode to have the right package in and no one kept track of the TO for SD. It's sort of understandable when you're playing a street free agent due to mysterious circumstances to be a little edgy, but see down the list to Will's comment on organization. I assume the coaching staff will be working situational football this week.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:05am

The only reason 0-16 is a real possibility is that their coaching staff is Raheem Morris/2006 Art Shell level inept. I've never seen a more disorganized offensive game plan than what I've seen through 2 weeks. The Gailey Jets had an offensive identity, throw vertically to set up the run. It worked in year 1 and not so much in year 2. But this offense? You could have monkey play-callers throwing feces at a board and it would be indistinguishable from what we saw yesterday.

My favorite sequence came in the third quarter. Down only 21-10 after a 7:30 drive, the jets set up to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Oakland 17. This despite the fact that Bowles punted down 9 with four minutes left just a week ago. In true jets fashion they run right into the line and lose yardage, only to have the play thankfully negated by a delay of game.

by Steve B :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:50pm

Re: #1

Why does Rivers "deserve better"? Nobody forced him to stay with the Chargers and he's not blameless for all these close losses they've had over the past few years.

by billprudden :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:19am

Gents -

That line about Phili being #1 vs. TEs last year - can we get an article sometime explaining how they did it?

Many thanks


by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:38am

Like last week, lot of bad o-line play in many games, although it is weird to see Cowboys o-linemen whipped so frequently. Top it off with many examples of the worst aspect of the game, injuries, and it wasn't a stellar weekend of NFL entertainment. If you are going to lose both your starting offensive tackles, and one of your starting receivers, however, it is a good idea to have Aaron Rodgers playing qb. That game is 41-0 with Case Keenum playing qb for the Packers.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:48am

Mike Glennon looked very much like what he's always been; really crisp and accurate when he's got time, a train wreck when he's pressured. Tampa was giving him the underneath stuff consistently through the first half so he was completing a high % of passes, but he melted when they got pressure.

A series of plays I found notably interesting; Bucs fans are pretty pumped about Noah Spence this year, and he's the one player people really want to take the proverbial leap. On a second-quarter third down play the Bears had a back over towards his side, and the back stepped up and helped the RT by doubling Spence as he tried to come around the corner. The next third down after that, the back was on the left side instead, and Spence just blew past the RT for a strip sack and Lavonte David recovered it. Huge game for Lavonte David, he was pretty much everywhere.

Offensively, some very solid pass protection and OK run blocking. O.J. Howard had one catch, but I noticed him as a blocker a few times, which is likely how he'll be productive his first year. Mike Evans is still Mike Evans, and, unfortunately, Jameis Winston's Deep Ball Down The Right Sideline is still Jameis Winston's Deep Ball Down The Right Sideline; he had Desean Jackson deep, and threw him out of bounds.

by TomC :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 6:36pm

I think you are being too kind to the Long-Necked One. There was zero pressure on either of the interceptions (just re-watched the "highlights" to check that).

Agree with you about Winston. As Bryan Knowles said, "it's not even that close," and the main thing keeping it from 40-0 was Winston's inaccuracy. TB receivers were getting big separation on nearly every play.

Of all the demoralizing things for Bears fans in that game, one of the worst for me was the run blocking. Yes, TB was keying on the run and was not going to be surprised by Tarik Cohen the way Atlanta was, but on at least three different occasions I saw a play develop that I was sure was going for 10 yards and was stopped cold because someone simply whiffed on a block. I mean, when you get two linemen on a clean pull and seal the edge, you should never, ever get stopped for loss, and that happened twice. Oh that and the injuries. FML.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:49am

Patriots won their last two championships in good measure by being better organized than what is typical in the NFL. That field goal at the end of the half was a great example. Playcalling sometimes gets overrated, compared to just having guys who know what to do situationally.

by billprudden :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:18am

It would be fascinating to get a take on that from some retired coaches we respect. How much time did Parcells and Gibbs, for instance, spend on the practice field on "situations" vs. standard plays? Does it grossly contrast with Buddy Ryan and Norv Turner?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:30am

If Buddy Ryan ever spent 5 minutes with his offensive players, other than to tell them what bunch of dumb bastards they were,I'd be surprised.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:51am

It's a weird mix, though, right?

They got led into a well-executed play by completely bungling the play before it.

I'm more mystified by calling a run with 19 seconds left and no TOs. There's confidence, and then there's playing with gasoline.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:54am

When you are confident that everybody knows what to do, it gives you a lot more flexibility.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:00pm

Sometimes you just get lucky.

A bad U-M team executed a FG in 9 seconds, using only players already on the field, instead of a squad sub.

Now, it should be pointed out that the officials erred here. NW should have been allowed to match personnel because U-M subbed (the kicker). There should have been an official standing over the ball until they matched. But U-M can rely on a few shady officiating decisions going their way every year -- there's historical precedent.

It's kind of fascinating to watch. I think there's a WR as holder and another as right-side tackle on that kick, and they're using a center instead of a long-snapper. No part of that play should have worked.

by Travis :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:11pm

Now, it should be pointed out that the officials erred here. NW should have been allowed to match personnel because U-M subbed (the kicker). There should have been an official standing over the ball until they matched.

There's actually a provision in the NCAA rulebook allowing unmatched substitutions in scramble field goal situations:

Approved Ruling 3-5-2-VIII: "Late in the first half Team A is out of timeouts. A pass play on third down ends inbounds at the B-25 short of the line to gain with the game clock showing 0:10. Facing fourth down and three, Team A immediately hurries its field goal team onto the field.


Team B should reasonably expect that Team A will attempt a field goal in this situation and should have its field-goal defense unit ready. The umpire will not stand over the ball, as there should be no issue of the defense being uncertain about the next play."

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:38pm

I see that in the present interpretations, but not in the 2013-2014 rules set.

Regardless, the kicker never came set for 1 second.

by Travis :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:00pm

Yeah, if the kicker was never set, then it's a blown call.

The 2013 rules lack the approved ruling, but do say that a team in the process of substitution was "prohibited from rushing quickly to the line of scrimmage with the obvious attempt of creating a defensive disadvantage", which the officials did not feel was the case in a scramble field goal situation.

by Eddo :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:57am

I thought it was a Brady scramble, not a called run.

So yeah, still a bad brain fart on Brady's part; they were well in side FG range, he could have just thrown the ball away, and then the FG unit wouldn't have had to rush.

EDIT: It was indeed a scramble. From the play-by-play:

Timeout #3 by NE at 00:27.
2-9-NO 17
(:27) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass incomplete deep middle to 87-R.Gronkowski.
3-9-NO 17
(:21) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady scrambles up the middle to NO 10 for 7 yards (26-P.Williams).
4-2-NO 10
(:02) 3-S.Gostkowski 28 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-49-J.Cardona, Holder-6-R.Allen.

Well-coached special teams bailed out a very questionable decision from Brady, it would seem.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:02pm

It wasn't super crazy for Brady to think he could've gotten the first down as the play happened. When he pulled it down and took off there was a lot of open space. He may have felt (as borne out) that the team could get out there fast enough to get the FG if he couldn't pick up the first down on the scramble.

by dryheat :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:36pm

My thoughts too. Brady probably thought he could have gotten the first down, and then line up and clock it.

None of which takes away from the beautifully-executed Asian-American fire drill of a FG attempt.

by danplatt17 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:04am

Considering injuries and performance in the first two games, I'm going to make a statement that I do not take lightly:

This will be an all-time bad Bears offense. Like, top five bad Bears offense since 1980, when I started watching.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:24am

I would expect they'll be significantly better than the Jets at minimum. The Bears have some decent players; Howard/Cohen are a viable backfield, and, well, if the WRs wouldn't have dropped about half a dozen passes yesterday . . . well, they'd have still lost pretty badly, but it wouldn't have been as painful. Chicago also has at least something resembling an offensive line, and Mike Glennon is a decent QB when there isn't somebody in his face. I don't think the Bears will be that bad. I mean, they'll be bad, but not historically so.

by Dan :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:35pm

According to SRS, the 5th worst Bears offense since 1980 was in 1993. So in order to make the top 5, this year's offense will have to be worse than that offense.

1993 was John Harbaugh's last year in Chicago (before reviving his career in Indianapolis), 29-year-old Neal Anderson's last year in the NFL, Curtis Conway's rookie year, and the one year that Ironhead Craig Heyward played with the Bears.

Harbaugh started 15 games and threw for 2002 yards, at 6.2 YPA with 7 TDs, 11 INTs, and 43 sacks. PT Willis was worse in his 1 start and occasional mop-up duty. Tom Waddle was the Bears' leading receiving with 552 yards. Conway caught 45% of his targets, and his longest reception went for only 38 yards. Anderson led the team with 806 yards from scrimmage, gaining them at a pace of 3.2 yards per carry and 3.3 yards per target. Heyward had 3.0 yards per carry and didn't score a touchdown. Harbaugh and Anderson tied for the team lead in touchdowns, with 4 rushing touchdowns each; Terry Obee followed them with 3 TDs (all receiving).

by danplatt17 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 2:31pm

Thanks for the stats! Given the low talent level in the passing game, and injuries mounting in the offensive line, backfield and receivers already, I wouldn't be surprised if this team does indeed move into that top 5. Out of curiosity, what are the other years in the top 5? I'd like to have a nightmarish trip down Memory Lane...

by Dan :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 2:52pm

I'll give you 8.

Year (QBs with 100+ dropbacks)
2004 (C Hutchinson, C Krenzel, J Quinn)
2000 (C McNown, S Matthews)
2016 (M Barkley, B Hoyer, J Cutler)
2005 (K Orton)
1993 (J Harbaugh)
2002 (J Miller, C Chandler)
1981 (V Evans)
2003 (K Stewart, C Chandler)
1982 (J McMahon)

DVOA might have a different ranking, but I'd have to look them up year by year instead of just going to the Bears' team page on PFR.

by lofistew :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 8:06pm


I was duped into becoming a Bears fan as a little kid in the early 1970s. Those Abe Gibron-era/pre-Payton offenses were even worse than all of the above. I just looked it up on Pro Football Reference: they only completed 38% of their passes for 1,108 net yards in the entire 1972 season!

by Dan :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 9:39pm

Going farther back, the 1974 Bears were the worst of the pre-1980 teams, but they didn't quite reach the heights of the Quinzelson Bears.

2004 (C Hutchinson, C Krenzel, J Quinn)
1974 (G Huff, B Douglass)
2000 (C McNown, S Matthews)
2016 (M Barkley, B Hoyer, J Cutler)
2005 (K Orton)
1957 (E Brown)
1960 (Z Bratkowski, E Brown)
1975 (G Huff, B Avellini)
1993 (J Harbaugh)
1950 (J Lujack)
1953 (G Blanda)
1971 (B Douglass, K Nix)
1973 (B Douglass, G Huff)
2002 (J Miller, C Chandler)
1981 (V Evans)
2003 (K Stewart, C Chandler)
1982 (J McMahon)

Two of these teams made the playoffs (2005 & 1950), including one that was quarterbacked by an All Pro quarterback (Johnny Lujack).

Bobby Douglass's running kept the '72 Bears off the list (141/968/8).

by lofistew :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:48pm

Good stuff, Dan. The 2004 team was the only one that I thought that might compare in awfulness.

I was just going down the PFR wormhole and realizing how much worse the 1973 & 1974 offenses were. Bobby Douglass was the first Bears QB I remember watching. He held that QB rushing record for a long time.

It's truly amazing that in the Bears' nearly century-long history, their most accomplished quarterback remains Sid Luckman, who retired 67 years ago.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:34am

"Bright spots for the 49ers: they are trying to run Seattle's defensive scheme, and they have the stud safeties they need to make that work. Eric Reid is Earl Thomas, roaming sideline-to-sideline to make tackles. Jacquiski Tartt is Kam Chancellor, with the big hit on Jimmy Graham to force an incompletion."

Ward, when fully healthy, will be the FS in the Thomas role, Reid was at SS in the Chancellor role (and looked good, hope he's not too injured) and Tartt was the backup SS but filled in for Ward as he recovers from a bad hammy. But I think all three are pretty good.

The defense doesn't have a decent speed rusher to play Leo and force the qb to step up into Buckner & co and is missing Reuben Foster but the talent on that side is beginning to show itself now that they're shot of some truly dreadful defensive coordinators. Bowman might need replacing too, I hate to say it but he's looking a bit slow for this scheme, you've got to be able to run in this D.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:14pm

That's some serious draft capital at S, isn't it? The 3 firsts on the D-Line get the attention, but at S are 2 firsts and a second.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:51pm

Well, Tartt was drafted to play Deon Buchannon/Alex Barron style nickel linebacker in Mangini's crappy defense, that's where he played in the game and a half before Bethea got injured in his rookie year. Losing utility of players brought in with a particular role is a consequence of changing your coaches so much, we're seeing it again with Armstead not having an ideal role after being taken as a 3-4 end (while Carradine finally gets to play the 4-3 power end he excelled at in college).

I was hoping they'd move Tartt back to that sort of role this year with the need for speed in the Carrol family of defenses and I think they showed a few three safety looks yesterday but Reid's injury might force him back to SS.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:39am

OPI calls (and lack thereof) in the Packers/Falcons game made a huge difference at the end of the first half. Packers would have been at their own 49 with 3 TOs and a minute left. Instead, a garbage call backs them up to their own 5 and then Rodgers throws a pick. Falcons offense then uses a WAY more blatant pick play than what the Packers were called for, no penalty called, TD Tevin Coleman. Instead of having a very good chance at being down only 7 or 3 coming out of the half and getting the ball, they're down 17. Huge turning point.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:54am

GB didn't run a pick play. It wasn't even a moving screen. The WR slammed right into the DB. I'm as amazed as you when OPI actually gets called, but it's about as obvious as an illegal pick can get short of using the truck stick like you're a sound guy.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:50pm

None of which was illegal because it occurred within one yard of the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile Austin Hooper just straight up blocked a DB 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and two yards into the endzone on the Coleman TD. That's why McCarthy blew up on the sideline; very borderline call against the Packers, easy call against the Falcons, but only one gets called and that's your ballgame.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:16pm

I was thinking of the one in the end zone.

Based on the photo, it might not be OPI, but it does look like offensive holding.
I can't tell how long he sustained the block, which might bring this into play:
Note: It is also pass interference by the offense to block a defender beyond the line while the pass is in the air, if the block occurs in the vicinity of the player to whom the pass is thrown. See 8-3-1-Note for exception for ineligible players.

Smacking a guy past the line on a non-screen pass is inviting a flag. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:38pm

Yeah, I didn't really have a quarrel with the OPI on Allison in the endzone, although again it was similar to what Hooper did that went uncalled. I kind of thought McCarthy was intentionally calling a similar play to what went uncalled to prove a point and/or take advantage of how he thought they would referee it, but Allison admittedly did not execute an illegal block as well as Hooper executed it; Hooper was much less noticeable.

I'm pretty salty about last night's game; I honestly think that at even strength these teams are evenly matched, but the injuries just kept coming (just like in the NFCCG) and the breaks didn't go the Packers way either. Against a team like Atlanta, that's the difference between a close game and losing by two TDs.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:12pm

I agree with you, the GB play looked legal since it was near the LOS, and the uncalled Falcons play looked blatant and about 4-5 yards downfield.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:42am

Blake Bortles at one point yesterday was 7/18 for 57 yards and two INTs, as the Jaguars were down 13. Tennessee then scored, to put Blake in his beloved "down by at least two scores" territory. After that point, Bortles went 13/16 for 167 yards and a TD.

The Garbageman rides again!

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:20pm

this sort of thing is why B. Bortles was key palyer in my teram winning fantasy league title in 2015. superflex leage and I used bortles in superflex spot. brees my other quaeterbac. no points taken off for interceotpnions./

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:55am

I will say this:

Chicago is hot garbage.
GB and MIN are approaching historical injury maximas.

It's going to be fascinating watching how the Lions blow this.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:15pm

If Bradford end up not playing much this year, the yelping will be epic about how stupid management was to trade so much draft value for him, but I really think that underestimates the sort of pressures these managememt teams are subject to. They have extraordinary bad luck last year when their young, until then very healthy starting qb, has his knee explode when he makes a normal plant. The rest of the roster looks good, though, so they make a trade for the best available arm, and......that guy plays pretty well! But it happens in the context of an o-line that endures Battle of the Somme casualties, so the qb really can't do anything but survive. This year, the young qb can't play yet, and they don't know if and when he'll be back, but the guy they traded for plays great in week one, while getting generally decent protection. He comes up lame, however, and who knows when he'll be back. Just bad luck all around.

by BJR :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 7:06pm

Worrying about Bradford. Still, dropping a road game to a non-conference opponent, in which they were significant underdog anyway, in week 2, is not terminal for the season's prospects. The early word seems to be he might be available next week, so perhaps the coaching staff were just being particularly cautious/judicious with him yesterday.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:37pm

"It's going to be fascinating watching how the Lions blow this"

They always come up with a new and creative way, don't they?

In all seriousness, even with the injuries, the Packers still have superior talent (I'm actually happy with Bob Quinn's drafting and FA signings, but he's only had two years on the job so far). The Vikings, on the other hand, are screwed if Bradford misses significant time (barring a 2015 Broncos-level standout performance from their defense). It's actually a shame, because I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Vikings offense last Monday Night.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:10pm

anything is a shovel pass nowadays

The standard is the standard!

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:15pm

A couple of thoughts about the Chargers in L.A.:

1) It's noted above and other places I've read about how the Miami fans were at least as loud as the Chargers fans and took over the stadium. This is nothing new for the Chargers. If you've ever attended a game in San Diego, especially against an AFC West foe or popular teams like Pittsburgh, fully one third to a half of the stadium will be of the opposing teams fans. The last Broncos game I attended in 2015 was probably 70% orange jerseys (all to see Brock Osweiler).

2) Not selling out a 30,000 seat stadium. By all accounts, there were still tickets available for yesterday's game up to game time. What hasn't been mentioned is the face value of the single game tickets. The Chargers look like they're using a scale depending on the opponent (costs less to go to the Bills game than the Raiders game, for example). But price of the standard tickets start at about $189 and range all the way up to over $500 for the seats on the 50 yard line behind the Chargers bench. I know there's a lot of money in L.A. and Orange County, but $500 for one ticket to a football game seems absurd. Not to mention, I read that the stadium parking lot is charging $100. Judging by the quality of games in the first 2 weeks, that's a lot of money to through down on what might be mediocre entertainment.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:44pm

The sad part about that pricing structure is that it likely favours away fans. If you're a Dolphins fan living near LA who hasn't seen the team in years, you'll be willing to splash the cash to see them play.

Don't really know how the Chargers expect to build a fanbase though.

by deus01 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:46pm

I'm assuming the owner feels that fleecing tax payers for handouts is more profitable than actually having fans.

Threats to move teams won't be taken seriously if teams don't occasionally relocate.

by jtr :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:50pm

>Threats to move teams won't be taken seriously if teams don't occasionally relocate

That's true, but it also needs to be at least a little bit effective. The Chargers are giving other NFL cities ammunition to call an owner's bluff. Go ahead and bail on us, you can play in an empty MLS stadium like the Chargers.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:01pm

To be clear, and not to be a member of the Kroneke Fan Club, the new stadium in L.A. will have minimum taxpayer subsidies, compared to the norm.

by deus01 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:20pm

That stadium is the result of Kroenke wanting to move the Rams though, and his motivations are probably a bit different. When Spanos didn't get enough money for a new stadium in SD he probably felt forced into relocating.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:26pm

Oh, Spanos is a chump, little doubt about that.....

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:53pm

I think you're giving Spanos way too much credit for actually thinking about what he's doing, other than "other owners demand stadiums or move so I guess I should." It's pretty clear in all the Rams/Raiders/Chargers to L.A. talk that went on that Spanos got completely and utterly pantsed by people far more capable than he is. I really don't think the Chargers had any plans initially other than latching onto the Raiders' coattails for their L.A. move and then being basically screwed when Kroenke's proposal came through.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:02pm

I don't think I was giving him any credit!! So if that's too much ... :-D

As you imply, Spanos almost got bullied into it. Once Kroenke got first rights to LA, Spanos had a one year option to decide if he was going to move the Chargers to share with him otherwise the Raiders got it. Really don't know what his next option after that was.

by milo :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 5:23pm

Las Vegas

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:02pm

That's a good point. Plus, you'll only be shelling out to see that one Dolphins game, rather than be a Chargers fan who didn't want season seats, but maybe wanted to go to 3 or 4 games.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:30pm

It's unfortunate that the Chargers play the Jets in New York later this season. If the game was in Los Angeles, you could have a stadium filled with Jets fans rooting for the Chargers to win. After all, that is the plan in New York.

by Jerry :: Tue, 09/19/2017 - 5:39am

Chargers season ticket prices range from $700 to $3,750: http://www.chargers.com/tickets/seating-chart Single games are currently unavailable for routine Ticketmaster maintenance.

As far as parking, the gameday information page (http://www.chargers.com/stubhub-center/gameday-information) says that $100 and $40 parking is available day of game, and there are shuttles to free lots at nearby transit centers.

I won't claim that any of this makes the experience seem especially appealing, but it's not as awful as it first looks.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:43pm

There was a weird play in Rams vs Washington. On a kick return there were offsetting penalties on the kicking and receiving teams. Since both fouls were post possession the ball was spotted at the point were the kick was caught (point of change in possession?), which was the 2 yard line. Without the penalty on Washington (kicking team) the Rams would have got the ball at about the 8-yard line. So Washington committing a penalty actually helped them, that is a bizarre ruling.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:55pm

Think Buddy Ryan's Polish defense or the Oakland Raiders "Holy Roller" fumble on 4th down.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 2:32pm

Holy Roller was a legal, if unethical, play in which the rules were later modified to address.

Polish Defense is a good analogy, or the Raven's version, the Polish Punt.

There are also plays which were blatantly illegal, but the refs were too gutless to call it.

That's either an illegal forward fumble for a safety or intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety. (Ignoring the observation that he was down by contact when the ball was released)

I expect numerous Packers fans to suddenly appear and argue they are oppressed by the officials of the league, even though I can't think of another franchise off-hand which has had even one-instance of a declared penalty be marked off only to be later overturned by an incorrect call. The Lions have had two.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 3:00pm

I'm not saying I think Samkon Gado was thinking about the obscurities of the Intentional Grounding rule when he did it, but I don't think the refs were wrong in their interpretation of the rule.

Every team can point to particularly egregious calls against them.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 3:02pm

And the holding call should have resulted in a safety.

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:09pm

The Holy Roller was an incomplete forward pass.

by cjfarls :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 2:26pm

Will be interesting to see, but if Denver's oline can give Trevor Siemien anytime at all, I'm guessing he will likely continue to surprise folks. The lack of commentary on that surprised me.

TS gets blamed for some bad play by folks like Watson (which negatively impact TS's DVOA), but when he was healthy last year (~weeks 1-5) and not being driven to the turf 1.5seconds after the snap, he looks pretty solid to me. Not bad for a 7th round kid who just started his 16th game, and his raw numbers over those 16games compare pretty favorably to just about all the folks currently playing.

Now that said, with the Denver oline (Watson, now Bolles being injured, etc.)... he might literally die next week (or the following) and all this will be moot.

by billprudden :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 3:17pm

If TS can be pre-injury Chad Pennington, the rest of the roster is enough...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 4:15pm

Pre injury Chad Pennington was a terrific qb, easily good enough to win a championship, if he were subbed in for a majority of SB winning qbs over the past 20 years.

by billprudden :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 4:42pm


by Denverite :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 3:44pm

The lack of commentary on that surprised me.

Call me a cynic, but I think that's mostly because they've been so wrong on the Broncos generally and Siemian specifically so far this year. Obviously it's early and that could change in a heartbeat.

by deus01 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 4:35pm

I think part of the problem is that it was difficult to separate how bad the personnel that make of the offense are and how bad and unimaginative Kubiak's playcalling was. The personnel are mostly the same as with zombie Peyton or first year TS but the results so far are a lot better. Some people spent the last two years complaining about Kubiak and it seems like we are getting some more evidence in our favor.

The other thing that is often overlooked in Broncos commentary is just how soul crushing the Denver D can be. They don't always play to that level but when they do it makes otherwise good teams look like they don't know what they're doing.

by Denverite :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 4:39pm

One big personnel difference is that Siemian is healthy this year. It's entirely possible that his shoulder injury affected his play a lot more than they were letting on last year. I was looking at the numbers, and in the 5.5 games where he's been healthy (i.e., pre-shoulder injury last year and the two games this year), he's thrown for 7.9 YPA and a 12:5 TD:INT ratio and a 102.3 passer rating. Obviously that's a tiny sample size, but those are top tier numbers, probably not top five anymore but definitely top ten.

by deus01 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 4:43pm

That's possible, but it also looks like he also has better protection this year. Last year it looked like they were being rushed on every play because they couldn't open up the run game at all and the line pass blocked about as well as a bunch of tackle bags.

by cjfarls :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 5:50pm

The pass blocking isn't that much better this year - Watson is turnstile... run blocking seems better though, and TS can get rid of the ball faster on 3rd and 4 than when its 3rd and 9.

CJ Anderson's and JC's blitz pickup ability is probably also overlooked... and shows in the numbers after CJ's injury last year compared to early last and this year.

by Hang50 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:44pm

> how bad and unimaginative Kubiak's playcalling was

Only time will tell if McCoy's schemes stay fresh or if they too go stale. He ran a fine offense when he was last in Denver, getting some mileage out of Tebow, but he's mostly remembered for working well with Manning. Whether McCoy and Siemian can stay head of the opponents' film-study guys over a full season will be the real test.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/19/2017 - 12:09am

I always liked his flexibility to build a passable offense under Tebow, then change it to match a lot of what PM did in Indy.

That 2012 Broncos offense really gelled by midseason and was really well run that year - I actually liked it as much as many of the Gase-led offenses that started overly relying on WR-screens.

Even McCoy's 2013 offense in SD was great, #2 in DVOA.

by oaktoon :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 5:39pm

any fair reading of Packers based on importance would probably go:

1. Rodgers
2. Mike Daniels (missed virtually entire ATL game)
3. David Bakhtiari (missed entire ATL game)
4. Ha Ha Clinton Dix
5. Clay Matthews
6. Jordy Nelson (missed virtually entire ATL game)
7. Morgan Burnett
8. Nick Perry
9. Bryan Bulaga (missed entire ATL game)
10. Ty Montgomery

Then Adams, Bennett, the interior linemen, Crosby, the cornerbacks...

You can't beat a quality team at their building with 4 of your best 10 players missing. Add to that a couple of shaky calls, a couple of bad Rodgers decisions, and there's your final score. The most troubling thing for GB is Atlanta's speed ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL-- yes their receivers went trouble-free and Freeman had holes to exploit, but equally telling was how quickly they closed the Packers down on defense as well.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 5:43pm

I agree with your general point, but I don't think Nelson ranks that high any longer, simply because he isn't the player he once was.

by dank067 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 6:08pm

2011 was Nelson's breakout year, where he put up videogame numbers as somewhat of a secondary target, but he was an absolute terror upon becoming the #1 receiver in 2013-14. Wish we could've gotten more than what looks like will be 1.5 seasons of peak Jordy + Rodgers.

by dank067 :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 6:17pm

Without time to throw (and without Nelson), the Packers couldn't threaten Atlanta deep, especially along the sidelines. To some extent this overlaps with the same things they've struggled with and failed solve over the past several years, but I think in this game in particular, being forced into underneath passing game and dumpoffs played into the Falcons' strengths.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 8:37pm

Yes, while the tackles were not Rees Odhiambo-level bad, the Packers offense is designed to take advantage of superior pass protection and Rodgers' ability to alleviate whatever minor pressure may slip through the cracks. Without them, the game plan was completely different and completely antithetical to what you have to do to beat Atlanta's defense. Their secondary can be taken advantage of if you spread them out, but the Packers had to chip on every passing play that wasn't a screen or quick out. The running game struggled because double teams consistently didn't make it to the second level successfully, because the backups either couldn't handle the DL alone or because the backups weren't athletic enough to get to Atlanta's playmakers. There is no team in the league that could win consistently without their two top tackles, but the Packers are particularly susceptible to injuries at this position, in my opinion.

by Cogitus :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 7:31pm

So after two games I think we can say Sean McDermott is an immense upgrade over the Ryan Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dum disaster that was the Bills defense last year. It's night and day, the Bills look much more disciplined, fast, and attacking. I wish we kept Zach Brown, as he was a perfect fit for the defense and it made zero sense to not sign him for what he got from Washington, but Jordan Poyer was a nice signing and has come out of nowhere to look like an all-pro somehow. Of course, we played the Jets and a still-groggy Cam Newton but this performance has carried over from the pre-season and passes the sniff test, at least.

The downside is the Beane/McDermott combo has sabotaged Tyrod Taylor and the offense by trading Watkins and leaving the offense without even a lukewarm vertical or perimeter threat. Smart teams like the Panthers will clog the middle of the field, leaving no lanes for McCoy or escape routes for when Taylor scrambles, which is often since Jordan Mills is a turnstile. I was hoping Dennison's offense would fit Taylor well, considering they've worked together in the past, but his play-calling is suspect; there's been little rollouts and movement, no go or deep post routes at all, which is Taylor is more than adept at throwing (although this may go back to to the point that the Bills have no deep threat at WR). There are, however, lot of short timing passes called, which Taylor sucks at. I honestly feel bad for him, the management seems determined to find an excuse to get rid of a stable, solid QB by surrounding him with the worst personnel and play-calling for his specific skill-set and I can't imagine he'll be inclined to stick around after how the Bills treated his contract situation and traded his only WR days before the regular season.

As you can imagine, it's frustrating being a Bills fan. We had a great defense and horrid offense with Marrone/Schwartz. Ryan comes in and somehow finds a QB, reclaims an all-pro guard (Incognito) from the trash heap, steals McCoy from Philly for an oft-injured linebacker, and drastically improves the offense but completes ruins the defense because he can't separate himself from his ego. So now McDermott/Beane come in and seem to have fixed the defense but appear to be offensively retarded---not only does the Watkins trade look bad, but letting Gillislee and J. Williams go for nothing in order to satisfy McDermott's fetish for fat slow turds named Mike Tolbert also is unjustifiable, as the offense totally shuts down whenever Shady is not in the game and Tolbert attempts to "run". Since I am a Bills fan I obviously am an optimist so I hope management learns from its mistakes and we do have lots of draft picks next year, but man, nobody spins the wheels like this team. 7-9 looks likely again.

by Theo :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 6:03pm

What I want in a QB:
5: elusiveness (running/getting out of the pocket/running ability)
4: arm strength (both accuracy on the deep ball and velocity on the short balls)
3: leadership
2: ability to see the open man
1: throw accuracy

By the look of things, 9 out if 10 this is not how QBs are drafted/rated.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 09/19/2017 - 8:06am

FWIW I remember reading an article about Belichick that said the two qualities he looks for in a quarterback are accuracy and decision-making. But can't have one without the other.

by Cogitus :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 6:17pm

How QBs actually are drafted

5. Good Hair
4. Height and weight ;)
3. Arm Strength, measured only when in shorts though
2. Patriotism
1. Intangibles/Fuzzies

by drobviousso :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 8:58pm

Don't underestimate good teeth. Good teeth are the dark horse quarterback trait that draft-twitter doesn't talk enough about.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 09/19/2017 - 8:07am

Worked for John Elway and Troy Aikman ... the Mr Ed-a-likes.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:22pm

Good teeth can be acquired for a smaller price than all those other qualities.